Web 2.0 Expo Review

The whole ‘Lab gathered in San Francisco last week to attend the Web 2.0 Expo, which explains why the content here has been stale for a week.

After a Monday huddle with Rich to plan the upgrade of Connect, our internal version social network and idea site to the Mix code line, we headed to Moscone for the Expo.

Rather than recount my week, I’ll hit the highlights and share some observations. I doubt anyone wants an account of my every action for four days.

Interesting Sessions
I really enjoyed the content in “Children of Flickr: Making the Massively Multiplayer Social Web“. Paul, Rich and I were all in this session, and despite a few broad generalizations from the panel, e.g. women prefer 2D to 3D images, the content was solid. I did manage to find the research they were citing, and I think it’s safe to say most people dislike 3D images.

The session was covered a few other places in more detail. The key takeaway for me was how to apply gaming to seemingly mundane software. Everything can be a game. We’re big fans of making products fun, so when Connect relaunches, we’re planning to include some game-like aspects.

I also enjoyed “Web 2.0: Fabulously Useful and Confusing“, hosted by Leanne Waldal, that focused on how regular, non-technical people reacted to popular sites like Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and others. The panel was comprised of these people, rather than topical experts. You can view Leanne’s presentation, which includes video reactions of people while they use these sites.

My takeaway from this session reenforced what I learned after last week’s edit icon SNAFU, i.e. we need to spend equal time thinking about function and form. Mix and Connect have broad user populations that are not familiar with many of the paradigms we take for granted.

Tim O’Reilly’s keynote on Wednesday was inspiring, i.e. use technology to do good, but after the geek version of the battlefield speech in Braveheart, Max Levchin, CEO of Slide, came on and cracked wise.

If you don’t know, Slide brings you “fun” (read annoying) Facebook apps like SuperPoke! and FunWall! Yes, the names officially have exclamation points; I didn’t add them for emphasis.

Max’s words about how spam can be fun and profitable (his company recently raised $50 million in venture funding giving it a valuation of $500 million) sat in stark contrast to O’Reilly’s huzzah. If you were following the Expo on Twitter, you probably saw similar reactions from people in the crowd.

Clay Shirky‘s keynote was great. The ancedote about his friend’s little girl digging behind the TV to find the mouse to control Dora was one I think I’ll borrow. His thoughts on technology are very topical. Oddly, I sat next to him in a session, but didn’t know who he was. Rich found my ignorance amazing. Oh well.

The Thursday keynotes featured John Battelle interviewing Marc Andreesen. I found myself wondering where those two would be if it weren’t for technology, since each has made his name thanks to the Interweb.

The keynotes were recorded, and if you have some time, I’d recommend browsing them for a taste of the Expo.

General Observations
Paul and Rich noted early in the Expo that the vibe was different this year. As veterans of previous Web 2.0 Expos, they noticed a shift in the attendee profiles.

Paul put it best when he asked rhetorically if Web 2.0 had jumped the shark.

Many have predicted that 2008 will be a tipping point for Web 2.0 as it moves into enterprises, a.k.a. Enterprise 2.0. The session topics and attendees showed a definite skew toward corporate adoption and uptake of Web 2.0 principles and technologies.

Apparently, all the good startup names have been taken. Every startup seemed to have “Fire” or “Rocket” in its name. We should rebrand ourselves as AppsRocket or FireLab or AppsRocketFireLab.

One of the primary reasons I attend conferences is to meet people. The Expo was no different. Here’s a rundown:

  • Dan McCall was in a session I attended. We’re talking this week about internal change at his company and demoing what we’ve done in the ‘Lab.
  • I met Mike Walsh, CEO of Leverage, very briefly, and his company was one of the host of the South Park crawl.
  • At the book launch for Groundswell, written by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff of Forrester, I ran into Darryl Taft of eWeek, Mary Jo Foley who covers Microsoft for ZDNet and Dan Farber, the new head of News.com and longtime journalist and blogger.
  • Thanks to Craig Cmehil, I met some SAP people, Moya Watson and Rebecca Sowards-Emmerd. Through Moya, I met Leanne Waldal who hosted the panel session I mentioned.
  • I finally met Sam Lawrence of Jive, whose enterprise octopus wheelchair made it easy to find him at the Expo.
  • I met a bunch of Oracle people, including Jenn Gil, Carl Backstrom, Mauricio Guzman.
  • The entire ‘Lab had lunch with Charles Armstrong of Trampoline Systems. We’ve chatted with him before, but his company made news last week by launching a “Facebook for the enterprise”. Coincidentally, thanks to Charles and Trampoline, we were mentioned in TechCrunch, US, UK and Japan w00t!
  • I also got to see old friends like Jeremiah Owyang, Dawn Foster, David and Marius. I heard Justin was stuck at the Oracle booth, but Julio was strangely absent.
  • Update: I met Paul’s sister Marci who heads PR at Tellme.
  • More updates: We demo’ed Mix and Connect to Jeff Nolan. I hung out briefly with Marshall Kirkpatrick of RWW and met Scott Beale of Laughing Squid. I’ll add more as I remember them.

I didn’t get to spend much time at the Oracle booth on the show floor, but I heard it was hopping. I spent so little time browsing the booths that I forgot to pick up my Web 2.0 t-shirt. Sorry Michael. I hear they ran out of mediums pretty fast anyway.

Best of all, I got to hang with the ‘Lab. We don’t often get together as a team. The last nugget I’ll share is that Paul finally started to “get” Twitter and is now updating and following people. I guess he was right about Web 2.0 jumping the shark 🙂




  1. I would comment here on Jake's insulting note on my late adoption, but I don't comment anymore. It's too 1.0. He can find my response on twitter.

  2. Jake,

    Sounds like you guys had a packed week last week. Will AppsLab attend the Enterprise 2.0 conference in Boston In June

    Funny you mentioned that Paul just “got” Twitter last week. Well take it easy on Paul because I finally “got” Twitter myself over the weekend:) ( A couple of days after Paul)

    What finally turned on the lightbulb for me was an article last Friday in Read Write Web that tied all the pieces together for me http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/twitter_fo

    I am at http://twitter.com/ondemandbeat

  3. @Paul: In fairness, you were probably on Twitter first and left it first. The value is in the network, which has only developed lately. Nice touch, lead us all to it, make us build it up into something useful, then jump back on board.

    @Marius: Ditto.

    @Ameed: I saw you out there in the Twitterverse. We have no plans to attend E 2.0 in Boston, but that may change. Why should we attend? Sell me on it 🙂
    Funny you should mention RWW, I ran into Marshall (who lives in Portland) at the Expo, and he was jonesing for news. I guess he found some.

  4. @Jeremiah: Yeah, that's good for us in the work sense. I guess on the geek side, it's on to the next big thing.

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